Ireland could face France, Portugal, Greece or Russia in next month’s World Cup play-offs -- and coach Marco Tardelli wants to stay away from the French.

The two-legged playoffs are down for November 14 and 18, with Ireland among the second seeds for Monday’s draw in Zurich.

“All the teams are very good, but I would prefer Greece, maybe, and I would prefer not to meet France, because France have many good players, as do Portugal,” said assistant manager Tardelli.

Irish goalkeeper Shay Given also believes the team should go into the November playoffs without any fear as he looks to repeat the 2001 triumph over Iran.

Given said, “We have shown we should have nothing to fear from any team in the playoffs. We are unbeaten in the group and we had to play the world champions twice, so we should take a lot of confidence from that.

“Whoever we meet will be difficult, but we have to believe we can get through it.”

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni is also unconcerned who his team draw on Monday when the play-off draw will be followed by a draw for home advantage in the first leg.

Asked for his preference in next Monday’s draw he said with a smile, “The preference is a team we can beat. They are all strong teams, but we have to accept what the draw brings.

“But we have to think we have played against Italy and drawn twice. In Bari, it was 10 vs. 11 and they had an excuse; this time they didn’t have an excuse.

“We must not be presumptuous, but with this attitude, we can have confidence about our next opponents. They are all important, famous teams, but we have also now in Europe and the world become a famous team, and we must believe that.”

 

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